Definition, benefits, exercises to try

Plyometrics is a form of exercise that uses fast, powerful movements to help increase a person’s speed and power.

Although people may associate plyometric training with sport-specific athletic performance, almost anyone can use plyometrics as a form of exercise to help improve their overall strength and power.

Athletes may also find that plyometric training helps them improve functionality specific to their sport. This is particularly true in sports that require explosiveness, which is the ability to generate power quickly and in short bursts.

This article explains what plyometric training is and considers the potential benefits. It also discusses some of the exercises that people can try.

Plyometrics is a form of exercise that relies on quick, powerful movements. Both competitive athletes and people who train for enjoyment and general health can use plyometrics to increase their overall power.

Sports and fitness experts can describe power in exercise and movement as the ability to perform forceful movements at a high rate of performance or speed.

Plyometric exercises help train a person’s muscles to respond with power and efficiency. Potential benefits of this training process include:

  • increased power output in the muscles
  • greater force in muscle contractions with less energy consumption
  • increased speed of muscle contractions or speed in general
  • enhanced ability to change direction quickly, which fitness professionals may refer to as agility or agility
  • better overall control when stopping and starting movements
  • higher jump height
  • decreased risk of joint and muscle injuries

A person should work with a trainer on an individualized training plan. Different exercises can help you focus on the particular areas you want to improve on.

For example, a baseball player may want to focus on drills that help him throw a ball farther or swing a bat harder. In contrast, a soccer player may need to focus more on lower body exercises that help with quick changes of direction and running speed.

Plyometrics involves three phases in each cycle:

  • Eccentric component: This phase of plyometrics involves the muscles storing potential energy as they prepare to perform a movement. Some people describe it as the cocking, charging, yielding, slowing, or absorbing phase. An example of this phase is when a person squats before taking a jump.
  • Amortization component: During this phase, the muscles undergo dynamic stabilization. They go from overcoming gravity and charging energy to releasing it. The longer this phase lasts, the more potential energy is lost. The shorter the time frame, the more powerful the releasing energy will be.
  • Concentric component: The final phase, the concentric component, involves contracting the muscles to release stored energy. During a crouch jump, this phase occurs when the person uses their leg muscles to propel themselves off the ground and into the air.

Leg plyometrics often involve jumping jacks, lunges, and other movements that focus on improving leg strength, power, and speed. The following are a Some examples of leg exercises that a person may want to try.

squat jump

A squat jump requires a person to get into a squat position and then perform a vertical jump. It involves these steps:

  • Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your toes facing forward.
  • Drop into a squat position, bending at the knees and hips.
  • From the squat position, jump as high as possible.
  • When you come down from the jump, land softly and return to a squat position to repeat the movement.

box jump

A box jump requires a sturdy platform, box, or stool onto which a person can jump. This movement consists of jumping from the ground to the raised box. A person must follow these steps:

  • Place a box or other sturdy platform a few inches in front of your toes.
  • Squat down slightly and then jump up, bending your knees so both feet land on the box.
  • For more power and stability, start with your arms at your sides, then swing them forward and up as you jump.

side jump

This exercise consists of jumping from one side to another. A person can do it in the following way:

  • Stand in a partial squat, which is where your thighs are halfway between standing up straight and being parallel to the ground.
  • Push off both feet and jump to the side, as if you were trying to jump over an object on the ground.
  • Land lightly on both feet in a partial squat.
  • Do the same movement in the opposite direction.

Once comfortable performing this exercise, a person can make it more challenging by starting with a single-leg partial squat. They can push off the supporting leg to jump to the side, landing softly on the other foot.

Upper body plyometrics can be helpful for people who throw or hit balls. They can also benefit swimmers, boxers, martial artists, and others who want to improve explosive power in their arms, shoulders, chest, back, and core. these exercises include:

Plyometric wall pushup

A wall plyometric pushup, or “plyometric pushup,” is a nearly vertical form of pushup that uses an explosive action to perform a movement similar to a normal pushup. It involves these steps:

  • Stand a few steps from a wall, facing it.
  • With your feet flat on the floor, lean forward and place your hands against the wall. Hands should be between upper waist and chest height, with fingers pointing up.
  • From a bent arm position, use your arms to forcefully push away from the wall. The hands should leave the wall for a few seconds before the body returns to the starting position.

pushups

This exercise is a more advanced version of the plyo wall curl. One person performs it on the floor as they would a standard push-up. The difference is that when pushing up, a person’s hands leave the ground. A person can follow these steps:

  • Get into a standard push-up position.
  • Lower your body until your chest is just above the floor.
  • Push up quickly with enough force that your hands come off the ground. If possible, clapping your hands in the air can help with timing and movement coordination.
  • Land back on your hands, lower your body back down, and repeat.

A person should consider working with a personal trainer, physical therapist, or other professional to develop a routine specific to their needs. These experts can also help a person safely progress to more advanced goals and exercises.

Anyone starting a new exercise regimen should first talk to a doctor to see if they need to take any particular precautions to protect their health.

A person should start slowly and include a low number of exercises and repetitions in each session. They can then increase the number of movements or exercises they do as their strength and endurance increase.

Although plyometric exercises can help reduce long-term injuries, they can sometimes lead to overuse injuries or accidents if a person is not careful when performing the exercises. A person should avoid plyometric training if:

  • you do not currently have a sufficient fitness level to support the movements
  • have pain, swelling, or an injury
  • have reduced joint stability

Plyometrics is a form of exercise that uses fast, powerful movements to help improve a person’s speed and power when performing tasks or movements.

Athletes can use these exercises to improve their performance in their sport, but other people can also benefit from this training.

A person should consider working with a personal trainer or other professional when starting out. A professional can help tailor a program to meet the person’s needs and goals.

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